Sexually active under 18s – resources for practitioners
Procedures have been devised with the understanding that most young people under the age of 18 will have a healthy interest in sex and sexual relationships and to assist those working with young people to identify where those relationships may be abusive and the young people may need the provision of protection and additional services.
MSB has adopted the GMSP procedures for working with sexually active young people under 18 which can be found at greatermanchesterscb.proceduresonline.com
Brook provide services for young people and also run loads of projects, training and campaigns designed to improve young people’s experience of health and education.
Brook also provides courses designed to teach professionals about sexual behaviour and campaigns to improve the curriculum – for more information visit brook.org.uk and find out more information about local services.
Fraser guidelines (also known as the Gillick competence)
It is considered good practice for workers to follow the Fraser guidelines when discussing personal or sexual matters with a young person under 16. The Fraser guidelines give guidance to doctors, social care and health professionals in England and Wales on providing advice and treatment to young people under 16 years of age. These hold that sexual health services can be offered without parental consent providing that:
- The young person understands the advice that is being given.
- The young person cannot be persuaded to inform or seek support from their parents, and will not allow the worker to inform the parents that contraceptive advice is being given.
- The young person is likely to begin or continue to have sexual intercourse without contraception.
- The young person’s physical or mental health is likely to suffer unless they receive contraceptive advice or treatment.
- It is in the young person’s best interest to receive contraceptive advice and treatment without parental consent.
More information about a child’s legal rights, Gillick competency and Fraser guidelines can be found on the NSPCC website at nspcc.org.uk/fraser-guidelines
Good practice is for any information, which has been shared ‘in confidence’, should only be passed to, or discussed with, another with the consent of young person. However, where it is felt that the information amounts to a concern about the young person’s own or another’s welfare, a judgement has to be made as to whether to dispense with the person’s consent.
There is free resource produced by NHS Leeds for Children and Young People with a Learning Disability whihc can be found at leeds.gov.uk
Sex Education Forum
The Forum provides an overview of the key data about young people in England in relation to sex, relationships and sexual health – for more information visit sexeducationforum.org.uk
The Sexual Offences Act 2003
Under the Sexual Offences Act young people still have the right to confidential advice on contraception, condoms, pregnancy and abortion, even if they are under 16.
In England and Wales, the law on Sexual Offences was updated in 2003. Under this law, the legal age for young people to consent to have sex is still 16, whether they are straight, gay or bisexual. Sex with someone under the age of 13 is statutory rape.
The aim of the law is to protect the safety and rights of young people and make it easier to prosecute people who pressure or force others into having sex they don’t want. Forcing someone to have sex is a crime. Although the age of consent is still 16, the Government says that the law will not be used to prosecute young people under 16 who are of similar ages and mutually agree to engage in sexual activity, unless it involves abuse or exploitation.
A Home Office leaflet explaining the sexual offences act for children and young people can be found at gmc-uk.org
Having children at an early age can affect young women’s health and wellbeing and can limit their education, career and economic prospects.
Although young people can be competent parents, studies show that the children born to teenagers are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes in later life, and are more likely to become a teenage parent themselves.
In addition, serious case reviews have identified teenage parents as being vulnerable families who may need additional support to help them achieve positive futures for themselves and their children.
The Children and Young People JSNA – Teenage parents provides information about the issues facing teenage mothers and young fathers, why it is a priority, and the support available in Manchester and is available from www.manchester.gov.uk/children_and_young_peoples_jsna_201516_-_teenage_parents
The Teenage parent outcomes modelling tool brings together data about factors that affect outcomes for teenage parents and their babies across local authorities in England and can be found at www.gov.uk/teenage-parent-outcomes-modelling-tool
The LGA has published Good progress but more to do: teenage pregnancy and young parents which contains case studies and practical information.
It is over 15 years since the then government launched its Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in response to England having one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe. Since then the under-18 conception rate has halved.
Find the resource at www.local.gov.uk/good-progress-more-do-teenage-pregnancy-and-young-parents